Pressing the shutter button on my camera should mean I'm capturing a moment in real time, yet the resulting image is anything but objective, as it presents the viewer with my personal experience and interpretation of a particular moment. Interpretation being the key word, both in terms of the image I choose to make, and how it is experienced by the viewer.
Photography involves choices, some technical, most subjective, particularly when it comes to the choice of subject matter and lighting. Picking up a camera and capturing a moment in time, particularly in the digital age, appears almost more science that it does art, yet even with so much technology at our disposal, the images we make are more likely to be the result of an unconscious process, influenced by any number of environmental and personal factors that we don't necessarily consider at the precise moment of making a photograph. In fact, the image we end up with is often a serendipitous coincidence of practise, patience and luck.
Even after creating a particular image, or group of images, there is still the process of choosing which version of that image, or group of images, is the one that best represents the reality the photographer captured, or responded to, at a given moment in time. You only have to look at a contact sheet of 4, 8, 12, or more, of the same image, to see that there is always one that stands out - that has a been circled or ticked as "The One". A lot of the time this choice is technical, but even if each image were technically equally strong, the chosen image is the one that just feels right; the selected image is the one that presents a reality that the photographer intended to capture, or if shooting for a client, the reality the client wishes to present in printed form.
What makes a particular version of reality resonate with a particular person is subjective, of course, but then reality itself is subjectively experienced by all of us, despite apparently hard evidence to the contrary.
You can follow me on:
I begin this long overdue post with a quote from my previous post (we won't focus on how long ago that was): "On reflection, the answer, for me, is to both engage with social media and disengage from the noise that comes with it. Hopefully I will find a path to follow in the coming year, that works well for me, and even, maybe, produce a couple of images that do qualify as "best" in the process."…
Clearly, the disengage part has been a larger part of the process over the last two months, partly because my focus has been on helping my daughter through a tough transition period, partly because I've hit the photographic equivalent of writer's block. Having set myself a task I have summarily failed to deliver on it, which is, lets's be frank, a bit rubbish. Yes, I've taken photos - and even made a few I can live with - but I'm still in the process of finding a path forward. As a photographer who is drawn to street photography, documentary photography, and environmental portraiture, I increasingly feel compelled to tell a story through my work. Equally, I find myself increasingly drawn to developing two very different shooting and post-production techniques, which contrast and almost contradict. I'm trying to work out whether I should only focus on one, or continue to develop both alongside one another. Will this lead to a sort of photographic schizophrenia, or will it enable me to tell more than one story (almost) simultaneously?
Although I don't have an answer to this question, I do know that I should have a long-term project in mind, as well as a clear voice that will tell a story through my images (preferably in a way that engages the viewer). I've even got as far as establishing the best way - for me - for achieving these two objectives, although I will have to wait for the tide to turn before I can get on with the plans I have in mind. The only challenge is how best to deal with my inner troll, and the little issue of catching the tide at the right moment.
You can find me on:
Lynda Higgs is a Fine Art Photographer specialising in Street and Travel Photography. She has lived and travelled in diverse cultures over the last 20 years, and currently lives in vibrant Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband and young daughter.
© Lynda Higgs 2013-2018. All Rights Reserved. No images or text on this site can be used without prior written permission.